UTC (Westfield Shopping Center) in La Jolla recently spent $180 million in construction and remodeling.  Among the new additions were an ArcLight Cinema multiplex and two appealing restaurants.  It became our destination for a movie and a meal.

Of course, a pre-show snack was called for so our first stop was the Chuao Chocolate Cafe. We bought a trio of gourmet handcrafted bars: Honeycomb, Dark Chocolate Nut Nirvana and Salted Chocolate Crunch. Their other award winning products include hot chocolate and bon-bons. The cafe also offers decadent desserts and gelato. Talk about a good start to our date. For locations, retail outlets and a menu of their goodies, go to www.chuaochocolatier.com.

After our chocolate fix, we headed to the movie.  High tech rules at this theater.  We had pre-ordered our tickets online, including specific seats. That meant no lines, no hassle and entrance directly into the theater; assigned seating is a major convenience. High backed, reclining seats and a state-of-the art sound system make it a very enjoyable way to watch a film; other ArcLight locations can be found in Southern California. The theater also features a cafe, bar and retail shopping. Join their membership club for discounts and updates at www.arclightcinemas.com.

Seasons 52 was our choice for our dinner. We sat at the comfortable piano bar for a glass of wine before being seated. The restaurant is attractive and comfortable.  It’s a seasonally influenced menu, changing four times a year, and the food is prepared in portion sizes; nothing is over 475 calories, including their signature mini-desserts.  There are weekly chef specials and an extensive choice of entrees.  It is easy to make a meal out of their custom flatbreads and an appetizer or salad.  It’s a sophisticated dining experience with an attentive, friendly staff. Note: there is complimentary valet parking and reservations are recommended.  Logon to www.seasons52.com for menus and locations throughout the US.

We had so much fun on our first mall date that another was quickly added, this time a matinee (plus, we still had a Chuao chocolate bar left for a treat).  This time we went to Eureka! for lunch before the movie.  Eureka! features weekly specials, happy hour, live music, extravagant gourmet burgers, 40 craft beers on tap (many local), a small batch whiskey and bourbon bar and a good vibe. They feature locally sourced ingredients when possible and it’s easy to find something for all tastes.  Here are my suggestions: from the appetizer selection try the osso buco riblets, tempura green beans and the lolly-pop corn dogs; entrée favorites were the king crab cake sliders and the fig marmalade burger. Meals come with their signature handcut fries.  Save room for the butterscotch caramel pudding. Look for other California locations at www.eurekaburger.com.

Next time you are looking for an interesting place to go on a date, try the UTC mall. Also take time to check out the skating rink, a dozen or so kiosks, the food court and over 100 shops.

Safe travels and enjoy the journey…

Howard Hian

Thanks to the various websites for information and photos



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